Republican leaders said the state's demographics, with a higher Democratic voter registration and large numbers in groups that traditionally support the party, such as immigrants, always make it tough for the party's presidential candidates to win.
"This area is so solidly Democratic now, it's a struggle to have a two-party system," said Bob Yudin, the Bergen County Republican chairman. "You can run almost anybody and they'll vote Democratic."
But voters said it did matter who was running.
"I didn't want to live in the world Romney was envisioning," said Bridget Freihart, an Obama supporter from Chester. "It wasn't so much Obama's track record. I feel like he wasn't allowed to get a lot done because of the House. But the policies Obama is working on, I put more faith in."
Barbara Bradley of Edgewater said she believed Obama "is doing a good job" after inheriting a mess that could not be reversed in only four years. And Romney's position on women's issues "would have had us back in the Stone Age," she said.
Omar Clavijo of Palisades Park wrote in a vote for Ron Paul in 2008, but he "had to make sure Obama won" because "Romney was so full of it."
"And it's not a Republican/Democrat thing. I would have voted for [New York Mayor Michael] Bloomberg or Chris Christie. I think with eight years, Obama can probably turn the country around," Clavijo said.
Many states gave Obama more support than New Jersey, including Romney's home state of Massachusetts, where Obama got 61 percent of the vote.
Early tallies showed Sandy lowered turnout by more than 550,000 votes, or 15 percent. The biggest drops were in Ocean and Essex counties, which were off by 20 percent and 19 percent, respectively. Those figures are likely to change when absentee, fax and email ballots are added, but no one Wednesday could provide information how many of those votes there were.
Murray said that nationwide, turnout was down by 7 to 8 percent, and he thought it was significant that New Jersey's vote was not off by more than that.
The exit polls show 44 percent of the electorate called themselves Democrats and 26 percent Republicans. It was 44 percent to 28 percent four years ago," Murray said.
"Democrats made sure they got themselves to the polls come hell or high water, literally. Before Sandy, that did not look like it would be the case," he said.
Staff Writers Chris Harris and John Reitmeyer contributed to this article. Email: email@example.com Blog: northjersey.com/ thepoliticalstate
Of all the states that President Obama won in 2008, New Jersey was the only one where the percentage of votes increased Tuesday.
State : 2008 : 2012 : Chg
New Jersey : 57% : 58% : 1%
Rhode Island : 63% : 63% : 0%
New York : 63% : 63% : 0%
Maryland : 62% : 62% : 0%
Vermont : 67% : 67% : 0%
D.C. : 92% : 91% : -1%
Maine : 58% : 56% : -2%
Florida : 51% : 50% : -1%
Hawaii : 72% : 71% : -1%
North Carolina : 50% : 48% : -1%
Massachusetts : 62% : 61% : -1%
Minnesota : 54% : 53% : -1%
Ohio : 52% : 50% : -1%
Virginia : 53% : 51% : -2%
California : 61% : 59% : -2%
New Hampshire : 54% : 52% : -2%
Iowa : 54% : 52% : -2%
Colorado : 54% : 51% : -2%
Washington : 58% : 55% : -2%
Pennsylvania : 54% : 52% : -3%
New Mexico : 57% : 53% : -4%
Connecticut : 61% : 58% : -3%
Nevada : 55% : 52% : -3%
Delaware : 62% : 59% : -3%
Oregon : 57% : 53% : -3%
Wisconsin : 56% : 53% : -3%
Michigan : 57% : 54% : -4%
Illinois : 62% : 57% : -5%
Indiana : 50% : 44% : -6%
United States : 53% : 50% : -3%
Note: Figures are rounded. 2012 figures are not official.
Sources: Federal Election Commission, realclearpolitics.com
Staff Writers Chris Harris and John Reitmeyer contributed to this article
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